The Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix exists to strengthen and sustain a vibrant, inclusive community that enriches lives. We accomplish this through funding, convening, planning and engaging for the community. Through these initiatives, we foster Jewish education, inspire Jewish young adults, care for Jewish seniors and forge ties with Israel. With the generosity of our community, the federation allocates millions of dollars for critical services and also provides leadership, guidance and the impact of the collective. I am proud to share a few of the things made possible through our supporters this year:
Seniors: Our senior concierge program with Jewish Family & Children’s Service has proven very successful. We have funded the position for another year to link seniors to vital services that help them maintain independence and Jewish dignity. We also allocated nearly $60,000 to provide transportation for seniors to health care appointments, shopping and social activities to combat isolation and improve quality of life and independence.
Israel: Through our Israel advocacy initiative, we create passionate advocates for Israel. To that end, we again funded the joint staff position with Hillel Jewish Student Center and Jewish Arizonans on Campus (JAC) at Arizona State University to educate and train students to speak up for Israel on campus and in the community. In addition, through our Israel Center, we continue to work with community and religious leaders to defeat BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) efforts against Israel. The federation supports Israel, not only through our Israel advocacy, but also through our funding and partnership with the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). Through the collective of the federation system, we provide critical social services, aliyah assistance, community building, absorption services and support in times of crises.
NowGen: Our expanded NowGen staff has been hard at work creating opportunities to engage Jewish young adults with their Jewish identities and with the community. Already we have seen our inaugural NowGen Gives Back Day with a half-dozen projects completed for local service agencies. NowGen also launched Shalom Phoenix to welcome Jewish young adults who are new to our community. So far, more than 1,000 young adults have been engaged in NowGen programming.
Partner agencies and Jewish day schools: The federation helps to maintain the fabric and foundation of our Jewish community by funding and supporting our strategic and school partners. We are the largest single funding source, outside of government grants, to Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Hillel at ASU, the Valley of the Sun and East Valley Jewish Community Centers, Bureau of Jewish Education and Council for Jews with Special Needs. In addition, we fund Valley Beit Midrash and seven Jewish day schools.
Women’s Philanthropy: Last year, we launched a major revitalization initiative and expanded leadership of our Women’s Philanthropy program. Since then, more than 700 women have engaged in our donor recognition, learning and leadership opportunities. We were pleased to welcome Jane Weitzman as our featured speaker during the 2016 IGNITION! Luncheon and proud that Women’s Philanthropy Chair Julee Landau Shahon was appointed to the national board. Our Women’s Philanthropy board of 24 leaders continues to create vibrant and meaningful opportunities for women in our community to connect, learn and lead.
Business & Professionals Group: The federation also expanded the programs of its Business & Professionals Group, connecting and engaging Jewish professionals through our Real Estate & Finance Division; Cardozo Society, for those in the legal field; and Chai Tech, for those in the information, technology and engineering fields.
Looking forward: Our leadership is working on a seven-year roadmap to guide the federation in creating a path for significantly expanded impact. This roadmap will outline not only campaign growth, but also how this growth can increase much-needed services and meaningful engagement, while creating a stronger, more vibrant and sustainable Jewish community. We are excited about the promising future of our community and the critical role the federation plays.
Our work in the community and around the world is made possible through the generosity and leadership of the community. To learn more about the federation’s impact and how you can play a role, please visit jewishphoenix.org.
Stuart Wachs is president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix.